Women Head into Atlantic 10 Tournament Following Big Win


The Rams earned the No. 3 seed and a first round bye in the A-10 tournament. Their first game will be March 7. (Photo by Neil Tennant/The Ram)


The Rams earned the No. 3 seed and a first round bye in the A-10 tournament. Their first game will be March 7. (Photo by Neil Tennant/The Ram)
The Rams earned the No. 3 seed and a first round bye in the A-10 tournament. Their first game will be March 7. (Photo by Neil Tennant/The Ram)

For the second year in a row, the Fordham women’s basketball team is heading into the Atlantic 10 postseason tournament with high hopes. After defeating George Mason 71-52 at home and St. Joe’s 58-53 in Philadelphia, the Rams clinched third in the conference, granting them a bye into the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Fordham hosted their final home game last Wednesday night against George Mason needing a win to stay above fourth in the conference. Heading into the game, George Mason found itself on the bottom of the A-10 and visiting one of the toughest venues in the conference. In classic Fordham fashion, the Rams dominated from start to finish in a game they were heavily favored to win.

Coming off of a bad loss at Duquesne in which senior guard Erin Rooney only had four points, the captain fought back and scored 24 points on seven of 15 shooting, dished out nine assists and grabbed three rebounds to get back to her normal form.

“I struggled a little bit the past couple games,” Rooney said after the win over George Mason. “So I just got back to basics. I came in and shot a bit with coach, some form shooting to get that back, so I think that helped my performance today.”

Rooney wasn’t the only Ram with a dominant performance. After recording three straight double-doubles before the George Mason game, junior Emily Tapio continued her success on the court scoring 16 points to go along with six rebounds. Tapio’s breakout season has made Fordham a matchup nightmare for other teams.

“Emily’s a tough matchup,” head coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “She’s quick enough to go by you, but she’s also strong on the block. We’re able to get a lot of looks because of that.”

Sophomore Samantha Clark almost had a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points. The Neptune, N.J. native also had four assists on the night.

The win gave Fordham a 14-1 record at Rose Hill Gym on the year, the lone loss coming to Duquesne way back on Jan. 8. It also sent Fordham into its final game against St. Joseph’s with a tournament bye on the line, making it perhaps the most important game of the year.

Last season, Fordham missed out on an Atlantic 10 championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament when it lost to St. Joe’s in the final of last year’s A-10 tournament.

This year, Fordham exacted their revenge at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia, beating the Red Hawks 58-53 and securing their place in the A-10 quarterfinals.

“We didn’t talk too much about the importance of the game,” Gaitley said. “We didn’t want to make it bigger than it was. We just felt it was important to carry over some of the things we learned on the road, and I thought the kids did a great job keeping things in perspective.”

The two teams, showing how evenly matched they truly are, traded blows for most of the first half. While Fordham held the lead in the beginning of the first half, it was never able to get the lead above six points, as St. Joe’s constantly answered Fordham’s scoring possessions.

St. Joe’s took the lead with 10:17 in the first half and maintained that lead into halftime. But much like the Rams, the Red Hawks could not break away with the lead, taking only a six point advantage into the second half.

Fordham struggled early in the second half. Appearing to let the game get away, the Rams were facing a nine point deficit with just over 15 minutes to go, however, Fordham fought back. Led by seniors Abigail Corning and Rooney, the Rams went on a 10-0 run, regaining the lead with 10:45 left in the game.

“[The run] was a combination of two things,” Gaitley said. “We played really solid defense and we made shots. In the first half we had great looks, they just weren’t going in.”

Fordham was able to extend its lead to eight points with just under two minutes to go. And, although St. Joe’s made a run and cut the gap to three, free throws from Corning and freshman Hanna Missry put the game away and clinched the victory for Fordham.

With that win, Fordham enters this weekend’s A-10 tournament in Richmond as the three seed. The Rams will face the winner of the Duquesne and Rhode Island game, which will be played on Thursday, March 6. Duquesne is the only team to defeat Fordham twice this year, and although one might think the Rams would want a different opponent, they have other ideas about a potential third game with the Dukes.

“It excites me,” Gaitley said. “The first thing I said in the locker room [after the St. Joe’s game] is that this might give us the chance to get another game with Duquesne, and the kids were very excited.”

Matt Rosenfeld is Sports Editor at The Fordham Ram.